A direct relation exists between sodium and calcium excretion, but randomized studies evaluating the sustained effect of a low-salt diet on idiopathic hypercalciuria, one of the main risk factors for calcium-oxalate stone formation, are still lacking.
Our goal was to evaluate the effect of a low-salt diet on urinary calcium excretion in patients affected by idiopathic calcium nephrolithiasis.
Patients affected by idiopathic calcium stone disease and hypercalciuria (>300 mg Ca/d in men and >250 mg Ca/d in women) were randomly assigned to receive either water therapy alone (control diet) or water therapy and a low-salt diet (low-sodium diet) for 3 mo. Twenty-four-hour urine samples were obtained twice from all patients: one sample at baseline on a free diet and one sample after 3 mo of treatment.
A total of 210 patients were randomly assigned to receive a control diet (n = 102) or a low-sodium diet (n = 108); 13 patients (2 on the control diet, 11 on the low-sodium diet) withdrew from the trial. At the follow-up visit, patients on the low-sodium diet had lower urinary sodium (mean +/- SD: 68 +/- 43 mmol/d at 3 mo compared with 228 +/- 57 mmol/d at baseline; P < 0.001). Concomitant with this change, they showed lower urinary calcium (271 +/- 86 mg/d at 3 mo compared with 361 +/- 129 mg/d on the control diet, P < 0.001) and lower oxalate excretion (28 +/- 8 mg/d at 3 mo compared with 32 +/- 10 mg/d on the control diet, P = 0.001). Urinary calcium was within the normal range in 61.9% of the patients on the low-salt diet and in 34.0% of those on the control diet (difference: +27.9%; 95% CI: +14.4%, +41.3%; P < 0.001).
A low-salt diet can reduce calcium excretion in hypercalciuric stone formers. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01005082.